Katsouranis with PAOK in 2013
|Date of birth||(1979-06-21) 21 June 1979 (age 38)|
|Place of birth||Patras, Greece|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Playing position||Midfielder / Centre back|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 3 October 2015.|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 17 June 2015
Konstantinos "Kostas" Katsouranis (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος "Κώστας" Κατσουράνης; born 21 June 1979) is a former Greek professional footballer. A versatile defensive midfielder, he won the Super League Greek Footballer of the Year Award in 2005 and 2013, as well as the Cosme Damião Award for Footballer of the Year in 2008.
Internationally, Katsouranis represented the Greece national team between 2002 and 2015. He was a key member of the Euro 2004 winning squad, and also represented Greece in Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup, Euro 2012 and the 2014 World Cup. With 116 appearances, he is a member of a closed club of players who had more than 100 caps in the history of the Greek national team.
Style of Play
Katsouranis can play in various positions, characteristic shared with Ruud Gullit as a result of the combination of his technique, speed and strength. He has been described as "a reasonable goal threat despite being notionally a Midfielder". A fine passer of the ball, Katsouranis is also strong in the air and has excellent positioning defensively. However, it is his natural attacking instinct that makes him such a valuable footballer, able to ghost into the box with regularity despite usually playing in a deep-lying midfield role. Over his club career and at times for the national team, he has proved to be a natural finisher, scoring a variety of goals and crucial ones at that. His ability to offer an attacking threat without compromising his defensive duties means he is the embodiment of a box-to-box midfielder.
Katsouranis was not even 17 years old when he debuted in the 1996–97 season for the Patras-based club Panachaiki. In his first season, Panachaiki reached the Greek Cup semi-finals, tying an all-time best result in the competition. In the 1997–98 season, Katsouranis made three appearances in the Intertoto Cup, scoring one goal as Panachaiki finished fourth out of five in their group. He spent six seasons in Patras and by the third, he was a regular starter.
When his contract with Panachaiki expired, Katsouranis opened negotiations with Panathinaikos. Fernando Santos however, Panathinaikos' coach at the time, decided to sign PortugueseCarlos Chaínho, a player he knew when at FC Porto, which meant Katsouranis' transfer would not be finalized.
Katsouranis was then approached by Olympiacos. The talks with the vice-president of the club, Giorgos Louvaris, seemed final, but Louvaris asked Katsouranis to wait until the president, Sokratis Kokkalis, returned from a business trip to the United States for the final negotiations. However, former AEK Athens president Chrysostomos Psomiadis took advantage of the situation and convinced the promising midfielder to sign a three-year contract with AEK Athens.
Coming off the bench and making an impressive debut for the club, Katsouranis immediately became an integral part of the club. His continuing progress in the top-level rapidly made him the team's best player and a first team regular with great performances, both domestically and in European competition. He was used mainly as a central midlfielder but also can be used in the wings.
When the 2004/05 season began, Katsouranis was still at AEK despite several attractive offers, having agreed a new three-year contract while most of his teammates from the previous campaign had acted on their frustration and left. In the fevered atmosphere that saw AEK's gates quadruple as fans flocked to support the club under new owner Demis Nikolaidis, Katsouranis adopted a special place in supporters' hearts.
The 2004–05 season would prove to be one Katsouranis' finest seasons with the club, as he scored 10 times in 28 appearances from the defensive midfielder spot, leading the club in a hard battle for the title. AEK managed to finish third when many had expected a mid-table performance. Werder Bremen expressed strong interest for the Greek international but Katsouranis together with president Demis Nikolaidis decided to reject the offer.
Despite radical changes to the squad in the first season under Nikolaidis, players, fans and club staff came together to create a carnival atmosphere at every AEK game. Led by captain Katsouranis, the team responded with some heroic performances, only missing the championship on the final day of the campaign. Everyone connected with the club was united for one purpose: the team, said Katsouranis. First we had to make the club financially healthy, and then to make sure everything was well organised. In the 2005–06 season, Katsouranis led the club to a second-place finish in the league, which brought them into the UEFA Champions League. At the end of the season, manager Fernando Santos was sacked and Katsouranis wanted to leave to a bigger club and further his career abroad. He then signed with SL Benfica of Portugal, managed by Fernando Santos, for a fee of €3.5 million plus the proceeds of friendly match in Athens between the two clubs.
Katsouranis signed a four-year contract with Portuguese club Benfica on 22 June 2006, joining his former manager Fernando Santos and fellow countryman Giorgos Karagounis. When he arrived in June, he said "Even if Fernando Santos or Karagounis were not here, I still would have joined. Benfica to me is one of Europe's top clubs and they proved that in the UEFA Champions League. I am here to achieve that same objective and joining Benfica can also help my international career."
In his first Clássico against Porto, he followed on to score for Benfica with a header following a corner kick, the second goal he has scored for Benfica in the league in just a few matches. Katsouranis quickly became a key player for Benfica, scoring some important goals and also captaining the team on a few occasions. He proved to be one of the most important imports into the 2006–07 Portuguese Liga, playing in 29 league matches and scoring six goals.
Despite interest from Valencia CF, Werder Bremen, Tottenham Hotspur, and Juventus, Benfica refused to sell the player, despite Juventus willing to trade Tiago for the Greek international. Benfica were relunctant to sell and, on 14 September 2007, Katsouranis agreed to a contract extension with Benfica for another two years. During his last season there, he was given a chance to captain the side, which was a huge honour.
On 2 March 2009, Katsouranis was named "Benfica Player of the Year".
Katsouranis signed a four-year contract with Greek Super League club Panathinaikos, on 1 July 2009 on a fee of €3.5 million. He has stated that it's the team he supported since childhood. He scored his first goal against Sparta Prague in the Champions League. He scored his first league goal against Skoda Xanthi on the 2nd matchday of the 2009–10 season. Katsouranis scoring abilities were a key part of Panathinaikos' good run during the first half of the season, as the defensive midfielder scored 8 goals in just half a season. He ended the season with Panathinaikos managed to end the season positively by winning the double with the 2009–10 Greek Cup final against Aris Thessaloniki. Katsouranis ended his long wait for his first trophy by helping the Greens win the domestic double in his first season; was the team's second top scorer (behind Djibril Cissé) with eight goals in the Superleague Greece triumph.
In October 2012, Panathinaikos president Giannis Alafouzos terminated his contract with the club, with Katsouranis paying the price for Tryfili's bad appearances at the start of the 2012–13 season. Katsouranis has been serving a six-match suspension for verbally abusing a referee in a Greek Super League match in August. Alafouzos reportedly told the rest of the squad that the player was "history" at Panathinaikos, whilst also expressing his displeasure about "two or three other[s]", without going into specifics.
Katsouranis encounters that gave and took many from the club. When signed with PAOK in December 2012, was not in the best moment of his career. He left Panathinaikos with rumours for a lot of problems with foreign players and the category of "the boss in changing rooms". Katsouranis never replied to a series of miseries which were released and related to him. He said "yes" to PAOK, not only because he wanted to prove that it can be helpful to club plans to become a champion, but also because he wanted to make it clear that working with people who trust him and with a serious administration, he will never be a problem for those who want to hide in the seatbacks and ask severe criticism. He succeeded in both. In fact few people know that he went to PAOK without the blessing of his former coach Giorgos Donis and needed only a few weeks to become one of his favourites.
Reports from Thessaloniki suggest that the defensive midfielder, who ended his contract with Panathinaikos by mutual consent in October 2012, will get €700,000 for this year and a half, plus any bonuses.It forms part of the policy of the new PAOK owner, Ivan Savvidis, who insisted on the acquisition of Greek internationals in order to boost both the strength of the roster and the prestige of the club.
On 11 December 2012, he signed a contract until the end of the 2013–14 season with PAOK and made his club debut on 6 January 2013 against Panthrakikos. He would wear number 28 on his jersey. On 24 January, he scored his first goal with PAOK in the Greek Cup against Kallithea F.C.. On 3 March 2013 Katsouranis scored his first goal in the Greek Super League with PAOK in a 4-2 win against Panionios. He formed a strong partenship with Gordon Schildenfeld in the central defence reducing to a great extent the goals which PAOK condeded. On 27 August 2013 Katsouranis scored against Schalke 04 for the Champions League playoff in a 2-3 loss.
In the 2013–14 season he was named vice-captain of the club behind Dimitris Salpingidis. He believed that PAOK needed time and patience to identify changes to a club that really tries to make a break with problematic situations and detach from stereotypical stories. He said, "What I see is that there is a plan. The fact that acquires so many Greek international footballers, shows in itself that is aiming a target. The challenge is to remain faithful to it and not skewed along the way. I have lived the same with AEK in summer of 2004. Then was not given so much money to the extent that PAOK does by acquiring reputable players. Along the way in AEK made other things than those envisaged in the initial plan leading the team to tabefaction. This should avoid PAOK. To remain faithful to the plan is the key not to lose the opportunity to build something big."
On 27 February 2014 he was sent off in the 69th minute in a 3–0 UEFA Europa League loss against Benfica, and he received a standing ovation from the Benfica fans as he exited the field in recognition for the seasons he spent with Benfica .
On 16 April 2014 in an episodic semi-final game for the Greek Cup where fans of Greek sides Olympiakos and PAOK put the mental in monumental as they greeted their heroes with a ring of fire, he had a key role in helping PAOK eventually went through on away goals after a 1–0 win following a 2-1 defeat in the first leg in Athens. It was a tremendous game as the fans then use the pitch as a giant ashtray by throwing their flares onto the grass and set fire to one of the dug outs. Five minutes before the end of the game for the sake of a ball he falling out with his team player in the Greek National Football Team, Giannis Maniatis leading to his drop-off from the game.
In September he signed a contract with Pune City, the team of Bruno Cirillo and David Trezeguet coached by the Italian coach Franco Colomba. Speaking on Kostas' arrival, Gaurav Modwel, CEO, FC Pune City said, "We would like to extend our heartiest welcome to Kostas. Apart from being a great player, he is an amazing human being his passion for football, down to earth personality and desire to learn and share sets him apart. His vast experience as a midfielder shall bring great balance to the FC Pune City team."
Katsouranis became the first player and captain of this year's FIFA World Cup to feature in the ISL. He played the first mach with the new club against Delhi Dynamos who contained Alessandro Del Piero in an away draw which ended 0–0. In a match against FC Goa, Katsouranis scored his first goal for the club and put in a man of the match performance in a 2–0 home win. Kostas made a very impressive play along with the Dutchman John Goossens and scored a beautiful goal in the away match in Kolkata against Atlético de Kolkata with the final result of 1–3 in favour of Katsouranis's club. This goal was awarded as the goal of the ISL's first season.
Even though in its first season, the Indian league is far more exciting than many others across the world and at the same time possesses a number of world class players. One of them, Katsouranis, winner of the 2004 Euro, scored his fourth goal in the season, becoming the league’s second top-scorer just beneath Brazilian international Elano.
On 26 December 2014, he signed a six-month contract with Atromitos with an option to extend it by one year. Undoubtedly he was the most impressive transfer of this winter's window, the signing of former Greece skipper. "I will give it all for Atromitos", stated Katsouranis who in the first half of the season plied his trade in India, with remarkable success in that up and coming mini-league that lasts only a few months. The 35-year-old has made no secret of his aspiration to return to the national team, too, as former Greece manager Claudio Ranieri had not called him up for any of the five matches Greece played after the 2014 World Cup. On 3 January 2015, he played the first match with the new club at home against Kalloni. He signed for Atromitos in a six-month deal with an option for one year more, however, the Athens club decided not to keep Katsouranis in their squad ahead of next season.
On 15 September 2015, Katsouranis signed with NPL Victoria club Heidelberg United on a one-match contract, with the option to extend it should they win their following FFA Cup match. Heidelberg United coach George Katsakis summed it up by commenting: "When you start to put things into perspective, he played for S.L. Benfica, all over the world, to come to the Olympic Village for Heidelberg, it's amazing."
"Katsouranis is one of the best players I ever trained in my professional career"
On 29 September 2015, Katsouranis officially announced his retirement from professional football.
Katsouranis made his international debut for Greece on 20 August 2003 against Sweden and scored his first goal against Kazakhstan in a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier. Katsouranis was one of the key factors in Greece's triumph at UEFA Euro 2004, beating Portugal in his own "home" (Benfica's Estádio da Luz) and, following Greece's success at the tournament. Forced his way into the starting XI after coming off the bench for the opening game of the tournament, he was an extremely important part of a three-man midfield that also included Theodoros Zagorakis and Angelos Basinas. It was in Portugal that Katsouranis really made a name for himself, delivering a string of consistent performances culminating with that famous final in Lisbon. Lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy represents the pinnacle of a national-team career that so far has never again reached the same heights.
Katsouranis was a regular for Greece in their unsuccessful 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign. He believes that the worst moment in the Greek national team was the elimination from the 2006 World Cup, realizing his own percentage in this unsuccessful tournament in a game against Albania national football team. 
Katsouranis became one of Greece's impact players in their UEFA Euro 2008 qualifiers in which he helped Greece qualify for the finals and have a chance to retain their crown. Their UEFA Euro 2008 campaign resulted in poor fashion as Greece failed to pick up a point. Katsouranis has captained Greece on several occasions and was selected for his country in the 2010 FIFA World Cupqualification. Together with Angelos Charisteas, Giourkas Seitaridis, Georgios Karagounis, Kostas Chalkias who all participated in Greece's UEFA Euro 2004 triumph, he led Greece to a 2–1 win against Nigeria, its first win in a World Cup tournament.
On 17 October 2012, Katsouranis reached a milestone on the international level as he made his 100th appearance in a Greece shirt. A 1–0 win over Slovakia in Bratislava certainly stole the headlines, but Katsouranis became just the fourth Greece player to make a century of appearances for Greece just days after teammate Giorgos Karagounis set the all-time Greece record for appearances.
Katsouranis's exceptional leader characteristics along with experience and the huge influence on the pitch saw him stand-in as captain for Greece at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with the team's regular captain, the veteran Karagounis, restricted to substitute appearances at the age of 37. On 19 June 2014, Katsouranis became the first Greek player in World Cup history to be shown a red card. He was dismissed in the 38th minute of the group match against Japan for committing two bookable offences.
After the draw for UEFA Euro 2016, Katsouranis stated that he was confident of reaching the finals due to a lack of "powerhouses" in their qualifying group. Katsouranis believes Greece face a tricky task to reach the tournament, which will be held in France, but believes the side are well prepared for the challenge. "It's a good draw for us but we have to prove that on the pitch as well," he said. "I believe we have what it takes to be among the final 24 teams. There are no powerhouses in our group, but there are dangerous rivals." However, Greece would finish bottom of their qualifying group, winning just once, on the final matchday.
He is married with Efi and has one child. His favourite place for vacation is the island Mykonos. Since late 2013 he has a new distinctive tattoo on his hand, with the number 21, a number that he stated was his favorite when he was playing for AEK.
On August 2016, after his retirement from professional football, has appointed as a Technical Director of Football League club Panachaiki F.C.
- As of 3 October 2015
|1.||17 November 2004||Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus, Greece||Kazakhstan||3–1||Win||2006 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|2.||7 October 2006||Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus, Greece||Norway||1–0||Win||UEFA Euro 2008 qualifier|
|3.||11 October 2006||Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina||Bosnia and Herzegovina||0–4||Win||UEFA Euro 2008 qualifier|
|4.||22 August 2007||Toumba Stadium, Thessaloniki, Greece||Spain||2–3||Loss||Friendly Match|
|5.||6 February 2008||GSP Stadium, Nicosia, Cyprus||Finland||2–1||Win||Friendly Match|
|6.||19 May 2008||Pampeloponisiako Stadium, Patras, Greece||Cyprus||2–0||Win||Friendly Match|
|7.||11 October 2008||Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus, Greece||Moldova||3–0||Win||2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier|
|8.||25 May 2010||Stadion Schnabelholz, Altach, Austria||North Korea||2–2||Draw||Friendly Match|
|9.||11 November 2011||Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus, Greece||Russia||1–1||Draw||Friendly Match|
|10.||7 June 2014||Red Bull Arena, Harrison, United States||Bolivia||2–1||Win||Friendly Match|
As part of the countdown to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Sports Mole looks at the top 10 players in the history of Greek football.
It is going to take some effort for a nation to spring a bigger surprise at a major international tournament than Greece did at the European Championships in 2004.
Having not featured in that competition since 1980, the Greeks defied the odds to lift the trophy, seeing off hosts Portugal in the final.
Prior to that, Galanolefki had only ever competed at one World Cup, which saw them fail to get beyond the group stages at USA '94. Nevertheless, they overcame Romania in the playoffs to book their place in Brazil this time around and have what looks to be a favourable group.
Here, to continue our countdown to the World Cup, Sports Mole looks at the top 10 players in the history of Greek football.
10. Angelos Basinas (1999-2009, 100 caps, seven goals)
© Getty Images
After making his international debut in 1999, Basinas became a regular presence in the starting lineup following the managerial appointment of Otto Rehhagel in 2001.
The tireless central midfielder went on to repay the faith shown in him by starring during Euro 2004, where he scored a penalty in the opening group game against Portugal. What's more, it was his corner that Angelos Charisteas converted in the final to help the Greeks secure the trophy.
He enjoyed the majority of his success at club level with Panathinaikos, who won two Superleague Greece titles and the Greek Cup once during his decade with the Athens-based outfit. The 38-year-old also had a season with Portsmouth, but despite being a favourite of the fans, he was not a regular starter.
9. Giorgos Karagounis (1999-present, 132 caps, 10 goals)
© Getty Images
Having captained the Greece Under-21 side to the final of the 1998 European Championships, Karagounis was soon promoted the senior team. To date, no player has represented the nation more times than the Fulham midfielder.
Like a number of those included on this list, Karagounis's crowning moment came during the 2004 European Championships. He scored one of the goals of the tournament with a strike from long range in the opening encounter against Portugal - the most important of his 10 strikes to date.
Although not always an automatic starter under the management of Roberto Mancini, the 37-year-old was a part of the Inter Milan squad that won the Coppa Italia in 2005.
8. Giourkas Seitaridis (2002-present, 72 caps, one goal)
© Getty Images
He may not have claimed the number of headlines that some of his teammates did during Euro 2004, but the full-back's performances in Portugal were rewarded by UEFA, who named Seitaridis within their All-Star Squad.
In the two matches against Portugal, Seitaridis was charged with the task of shackling a teenage Cristiano Ronaldo - a job that he carried out to a high standard on both occasions.
The 32-year-old is well-travelled, having spent parts of his club career in Greece, Portugal, Russia and Spain. In Portugal, he was a part of the Porto side in 2004 that lifted the Intercontinental Cup thanks to a penalty shootout victory over Colombian team Once Caldas.
7. Angelos Charisteas (2001-2011, 88 caps, 25 goals)
© Getty Images
He may be Greece's second-leading goalscorer of all time, yet, for his club sides, Charisteas was never prolific. Only on four occasions during his career did he record a double-figure return, while his contribution helped Werder Bremen to overcome the likes of Bayern Munich to win the Bundesliga title in 2004.
Finding the net never appeared to be a problem for his country, though. He scored three times in qualification for Euro 2004 and then went on to find the net against Spain, France and then Portugal in the final as the Greeks triumphed.
It was that showing that saw him voted into the Team of the Tournament, as well as finishing 11th in the running for that year's Ballon d'Or, which was won by Andriy Shevchenko.
6. Nikos Anastopoulos (1977-1988, 75 caps, 29 goals)
Known as 'The Mustachioed One', the only player to have scored more goals for Greece than Charisteas is the clinical Anastopoulos.
The 56-year-old was a key part of the Greece squad that qualified for the country's first ever appearance at a major tournament at Euro 1980 in Italy. The Greeks finished bottom of their group having scored just one goal, although that was scored by Anastopoulos with a powerful header against Czechoslovakia.
He had three separate spells with Olympiacos, during which time he won the Superleague Greece four times and the Greek Cup twice.
5. Nikos Sarganis (1980-1991, 58 caps, no goals)
While a 1-0 victory for Greece over Denmark in 1980 may not be a big deal for many, it's a match that Sarganis is never likely to forget. He produced a string of saves to preserve his side's lead, which earned him the nickname 'The Phantom' from the Danish press.
Although regarded to be the best goalkeeper to have appeared between the posts for the Greeks, he never represented them at a major tournament before his retirement.
The 60-year-old gloveman was also no stranger to controversy as a result of his switch between Athens rivals Olympiacos and Panathinaikos during the summer of 1985.
4. Traianos Dellas (2001-2009, 53 caps, one goal)
© Getty Images
Before Dellas reached the pinnacle of his career at Euro 2004, he once spent a season with Sheffield United. Fans of the Blades will remember the centre-back fondly, largely for his two-goal contribution during the comeback win over Tranmere Rovers, as well as a strike from distance against Portsmouth.
Following his transfer to Roma from Perugia in 2002, the 38-year-old established himself as one of the most solid defenders in Serie A - form that he took into the European Championships two years later.
As well as his positive defensive showings, Dellas also weighed in with a vital silver goal during the first half of extra time in the semi-finals against the Czech Republic, which sent Greece through to the final.
3. Stelios Manolas (1982-1995, 71 caps, six goals)
Arguably the best defender to have represented Greece, Manolas helped the European nation to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in 1994.
He spent his entire club career with AEK Athens, for whom he scored almost 50 goals during his 20-year association with the capital-based outfit.
His loyalty was rewarded with four Greek Championships in 1989, 1992, 1993 and 1994 and a further three Greek Cups 1983, 1996 and 1997.
2. Vasilis Hatzipanagis (1976, one cap, no goals)
Hatzipanagis is perhaps the greatest player that you've never heard of, with a quite remarkable back story for good measure. There are those that believe that he had the ability of Pele and Diego Maradona, but he never got to display his talents on the biggest stage.
He took up Soviet Union citizenship as a youngster, but a drastic change in the political situation saw thousands of exiled Greeks (including Hatzipanagis's family) return to their homeland. As a result, the attacker was advised to give up his citizenship with the USSR. It was a decision that robbed him of an international career because having represented USSR at Olympic level, FIFA insisted that he could not feature for Greece.
He joined Iraklis on a hefty 10-year contract in 1975 - another move that proved detrimental to his career. Reports suggested that the likes of Arsenal and Lazio were keen on his services, but the Iraklis board were never tempted to sell. It meant that the bigger leagues and clubs never got to see Hatzipanagis's dribbling and goalscoring attributes.
1. Theodoros Zagorakis (1994-2007, 120 caps, three goals)
© Getty Images
There may be more technically gifted footballers on this list, but none possessed as much determination, drive and passion when it came to representing their country as Zagorakis.
The former Leicester City midfielder, who won the League Cup in 2000, captained Greece to their against the odds success at Euro 2004, where his combative displays from the centre of the pitch saw him named the Player of the Tournament by UEFA, as well as being included in the Team of the Tournament.
Later that year he finished fifth in the running for the Ballon d'Or, ahead of the likes of Pavel Nedved, Wayne Rooney and Brazilian striker Adriano. He also came 17th on the list of 2004's FIFA World Player of the Year.
Greece will face Colombia, Japan and the Ivory Coast in the group stages of this summer's World Cup, and you can follow every match live with Sports Mole.
Continuing our 50-day countdown to the tournament, we will be looking at the greatest players in Holland's history tomorrow. You can also see all of the World Cup top 10 lists so far by clicking here.
Who is the greatest Greek footballer of all time?
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